The Accidental Oppressors

 

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Emily Maynard spoke about her experience in an evangelical church that was adamantly opposed to the legalism of fundamentalism. Yet- her church was, nonetheless, fiercely legalistic. In her presentation at the Bold Boundaries gathering, she says:

 

“From my experience of growing up at this weird cross roads of evangelical culture and fundamentalism, I can now see that the two camps that pride themselves on being very different and not like the other, really believe a lot of the same things… the accents differ, but the primary language and ideas are the same.”

 

When it comes to gays in the church, conservatives are very up front about their disapproval of us. They strip away the dignity from our stories, refuse to let us speak and give our testimonies, claim that we are confused and disordered and can and should be cured. They have shown their cards outright and…

I kind of appreciate that.

 

Don’t get me wrong, the slurs flying off the conservative’s lips are a menace and not of God and must be called out because they crush and cut deep.

 

But lately, I’m beginning to wonder about the damage progressive evangelicals inflict when they propose the same ideas in gentle, caressing, weak language, as if their ideas are something new.

 

Especially amongst the bloggers.

 

Let me first say, I have no doubts about the sincerity of these writers. They’re attempting to provide an alternative way to dialogue apart from the conservative vitriolic message. They are envisioning the faces of their gay and lesbian friends and what they want to do- more than anything- is to tell them they are equally human, equally loved, forever friends no matter what. And that, that good important message, which I have dedicated an entire series to, sometimes turns a well-intentioned post into an unfortunate misfire.

 

Here’s what I mean.

 

The writer will draw upon the story of Jesus and the description of his disciples and friends. Scenes are painted. We see the woman at the well. The adulteress dragged through the dirt. The afternoon meal between God and Zaccheus. And through these characters, the point will be made that Jesus spent an awful lot of time with adulterers, tax collectors, thieves and cheats and scum, and simply loved them. It’s so simple. Just love LGBT people. Be Jesus.

 

The picture of the merciful Jesus is exquisite. I love that this is God. I keep those boundary breaking, tear jerking stories tucked inside my heart and whenever I think of Jesus, they flutter to my mind and I feel the Rabbi’s heartbeat.

 

Having said that, this framework also happens to be condescending, offensive, and, most of all, lazy. It is a distortion of the actual conversation occurring in the faith today.

 

The actual conversation is not how to better love LGBT people because they are sinners. It is about whether or not Christ-centered marriages between people of the same-sex are immoral. Sinful. Missing the mark. If you’re not talking about that, you’re having another conversation entirely.

 

The talk about Jesus being friends with sinners is nothing new. Conservatives have argued the exact same thing, but they also note that after Jesus stopped the stoning of the adulteress, he said, “go and sin no more.” Which is, as I see it, a more consistent and clear argument. This is what flops “Jesus friends” analogies and the “just love” convenient theology, because progressives omit the last line.

 

But the good news, unless you believe otherwise, is that we gay folks are not sinful because we are gay- so we need not be told to “go and sin no more.”  As my friend, Nathan Kennedy, aptly put it, “I have many reasons to ask for mercy and grace, to identify with the woman caught in adultery and confess my sinfulness, but being gay isn’t one of them. We can’t go forward if we’re constantly talking about God’s love for sinners meaning gay people.” (tweet 1, 2)

 

By continuing to situate us next to the woman at the well, the adulteress on the ground, Zaccheus in the tree, simply because we are gay, you are oppressing us. You are maintaining the status quo. You are not moving into some middle ground conversation, you are rewording love the sinner, hate the sin, and when we boil down and disintegrate the highly wrought gestures, what remains is a lazy pseudo-progressive theology.

 

Don’t get me wrong- We are the marginalized. The oppressed. The pitched of the Church train. But what has to be grasped by progressive evangelicals is that the margins are not the cesspools of sin. That- right there, needs to be understood.

 

The margins are not tantamount to sin.

 

Christ planted his ministry in the margins because He is on the side of the oppressed, not because it was cesspool of sinners. The trenches have held both the virtuous and the vile and to say that Jesus hung with “sinners” is too simplistic. He hung out with the marginalized. The oppressed. Those pitched off the church train.

 

Look to the Bible and you will find a rich history of marginalized people who were not ostracized because they were sinful, but simply because they were different. Step into these stories and I promise you will see a redemptive and breathtaking circle growing wider and wider to make room for those that want to love Jesus, and that, to me, is one of the reasons I love the Bible. It is the story of God stepping in for the marginalized when man turns his back.

 

As for what stories?

 

Perhaps it’s most appropriate to begin with Phillip and the very first soul he, or any other disciple, evangelized:

 

A non-heterosexual.

The Holy Spirit came to Phillip, saying:

“At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.”

He got up and went. He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. The eunuch had been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was returning to Ethiopia, where he was minister in charge of all the finances of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.

29-30The Spirit told Philip, “Climb into the chariot.” Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”

31-33He answered, “How can I without some help?” and invited Philip into the chariot with him. The passage he was reading was this:

As a sheep led to slaughter, 
and quiet as a lamb being sheared, 
He was silent, saying nothing. 
He was mocked and put down, never got a fair trial. 
But who now can count his kin 
since he’s been taken from the earth?

34-35The eunuch said, “Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?” Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.

 36-39As they continued down the road, they came to a stream of water. The eunuch said, “Here’s water. Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the chariot to stop. They both went down to the water, and Philip baptized him on the spot. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn’t mind. He had what he’d come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be.” –Acts 8:26-39 (The Message)

 

Brian Mclaren offers a reflection of this moment:

 

“Imagine what Philip might have said: “I need to contact the authorities in Jerusalem to get a policy statement on this issue. Maybe we should wait a few centuries until the church is more established. Baptizing you could cause real controversy in our fragile religious community. In the interests of not offending people back home, I’ll have to say no. Or at least not yet.”

 

But Philip doesn’t answer with words; he responds with immediate action. They stop the chariot, and Philip leads him into the water and baptizes him.

 

Neither race nor sexual identity was an obstacle for the apostles in welcoming a new brother into the community of faith. As early as Acts 8 in the story of Jesus and his apostles, the tough issues of race and sexual identity are being addressed head-on. But as we all know, as the years went on, both issues once again became obstacles. It’s only in my lifetime that we have truly begun to put racism behind us – although even there, we still have a long way to go. Now, it’s time for us to remove the second obstacle. Not in spite of the Bible, but because of it. We’ve lost a lot of ground since Acts 8. That’s why I am among those who dissent from the conventional approach and attitude, appealing back to Philip’s even more ancient church tradition.”

 

Another monumental shift in Christianity came with the inclusion of Cornelius, a faithful servant to God, a social justice leader for the poor, but an excluded Christian because he was a Gentile.

 

In her CNN belief post, Rachel Held Evans gives a brief summary:

 

“After receiving a vision from God, Cornelius sends for the apostle Peter, who agrees to meet with him, even though it was forbidden for a Jew to associate with a Gentile.

Peter, an observant Jew, had been wrestling with the idea of including Gentiles in the church. But when he encounters the sincere faith of Cornelius, he is moved to declare, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right!”

He tells the skeptical people who have gathered outside, “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

Peter changed his mind, and the church would never be the same.”

 

These stories matter and, yet, they are hardly ever mentioned. If progressives are not talking about the expanding circle of inclusion than they are not telling the whole story. They’re just further perpetuating the same worldview that they claim to warring against.

 

Now, am I asking you to suddenly be affirming? No. What I am asking is that you be curious. That you stop being lazy. Stop dwelling by the woman at the well and consider that we might be Cornelius. You have to reclaim that Holy Curiosity. You have to be intentional. You have to break your own rules.

 

Here’s what the concerned, curious, and serious progressive evangelical does:

 

She studies, hard. She examines the totality Bible, different theology, scientific evidence- all of it. She talks to her gay friends, learns their stories, tries to work her way into their perspective and then prays, prays, prays. Prays over her own worldview and privilege and prejudice. Prays for an ear that pricks at divine revelation. Begs to God at every corner to never give up on her. To keep pushing her. To take her to a place that is not based on what gay Christians want or traditional Christians want, but what God wants. That is love.

 

A fantastic example of how this is done is Rachel Held Evans sexuality series. She has not done the old, “just gotta love” routine, no, she has been open about her doubts, amplified LGBT voices, and has been reluctant towards a definitive theology, leaving herself exposed in her own wrestling for answers. That is love.

 

~

 

If you, the writer, firmly believe that gay relationships are sinful, do not dance around it. Don’t toy with our emotions. Just say it as gracefully as you can, with the humility to say that this is how you understand scripture. And if you believe they are blessed, shout it from the rooftops. Say it boldly. Explain that this is your interpretation of scripture.

 

And finally, if you are unsure of it all, then say that.

 

I feel like this is the general consensus of all Christians today, but none of the bloggers are writing about it. None are honest about their doubts of the traditional teaching. And when you omit that part, you keep us in the margins. You are not moving toward the middle. You are not advancing the conversation.

 

And right now, we have too many bloggers that want to write about LGBT issues, instead of intentionally getting elbows deep in discovery. They want posts that show how loving and understanding they are, without trying to figure out whether the premise of their post is correct.

 

And today there are more resources then ever before on the conversation over same-sex relationships and I highly encourage you to check them out here.

 

If you’re a writer, speaker, debater over the dining room table and you want to talk about us?

Lean in.

 

RR

  • http://twitter.com/BrennaJD Brenna D (@BrennaJD)

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this. SO much. Thank you for it!

    • registeredrunaway

      Thanks Brenna! Thank you for bringing me in on your story and being a great supporter of LGBTs! You’re amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/HolliinIl Holli Carey Long (@HolliinIl)

    Yes. Wow.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Amythist_Malaise sheila0405

    I read a treatise on Romans that fascinated me. Count me in with the doubters, but one whose curiosity is causing me to do some research. I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t think orientation is a sin. But I’m also not sure about gay marriage. I have a brother and uncle who follow me around on discus, so I have to be careful not to ignite fires I’m not even sure should be set. My late sister-in-law (she died of ovarian cancer at 60) was a lesbian. When she was dying, her partner of many years cared for her just as tenderly as any spouse would. I know many gays, and they are wonderful people. So, I continue on in my quest.

    • registeredrunaway

      Sheila, the most important part is that you go on a quest! Your honesty is very humbling and I appreciate you so much! Keep digging!

  • http://kevinaimes.wordpress.com Nathan Kennedy

    Easily, easily, EASILY my favorite piece of yours, ever. You’re always good, and you always pack a good deal of substance into your writings, but this is an entirely new level for you. This piece – wow.

    Keep it up, man. So damn proud!

    • registeredrunaway

      Nathan! You provoked my thought on this! Thank you for your kind words man. You’re an inspiration to me!

    • http://twitter.com/emelina Emily Maynard (@emelina)

      I agree. Whole new level of awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/micahjmurray Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray)

    Ok, I wasn’t going to respond to this, because I think my straight-guy opinion formed mostly by reading other people’s stuff isn’t nearly as important or interesting as your voice, and because I’m still trying to figure stuff out have have no idea. But since you invited my response, I’ll try. Please be patient if my clumsy words are unintentionally hurtful. I’m still learning:

    I understand how people can arrive at the conclusion that any sexual activity outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage is sinful or deviating from God’s ideal/standard. Whether or not I agree, I understand the reasoning and I don’t think that is a far stretch from a fair interpretation of Scripture. I would hope that Christians, prog. or conservative, can hold this view and still be loving to gay people. (This is called Side B, I think)

    Supposing for the sake of argument that this is an accurate understanding of Biblical teaching, it seems to me that Christians would be right in calling homosexual activity sinful. I would hope that they can do this without being unloving, or being perceived as bigoted. From this perspective, I think referring to the “woman at the well” or “zacheus” or “the woman caught in adultery” stories could be a helpful example for how Jesus would interact with a person who was habitually sinning through homosexual activity.

    It seems to me that if this is a person’s understanding of homosexual activity as sinful, that they would view the orientation as not inherently sinful, but as a predisposition to act in a way that would be sinful, or an ongoing temptation to sin. Within this perspective, I can see how a mother would be sad to see her sons be gay, knowing that they would struggle with a very difficult temptation to sexual sin.

    This is where it seems that those who hold that view tend to go wrong, in my uneducated opinion: First, many fail to differentiate between the orientation and the action as sinful. Even if the Bible does teach that “homosexual activity” is sinful (which is up for debate), surely the orientation itself cannot be. Secondly, I think many Christians express their view in a way that is blindly insensitive to the effect it has on those who hear it. I think there’s a tendency to create a “us vs them” narrative.

    In conclusion (of this section), if the Bible teaches that homosexual actions are sinful, then “love the sinner, hate the sin” may technically be an appropriate way to approach those who are habitually sinning through homosexual activity. However, by even giving voice to this expression, Christians are elevating themselves above “the sinners”. Also, those who do say this tend to apply it to all gay people, assuming that all gay people are sinning through homosexual actions (remember, for the sake of argument we’re still assuming that any sexual action or activity outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful)

    Ok, so what then? Progressive Christians could always interpret the Scripture in a way that does not prohibit homosexual activity. I think that this is also a reasonable and fair understanding of the Bible. So, I don’t think one view or the other can definitively stake a claim on absolute Biblical clarity. But if Christians do hold this view (Side A, I think it’s called?) then that makes it easier for everyone. Carry on in love.

    I think that you’re right in saying more Christians should be honest in saying they just don’t know, or they’re confused, or they’re struggling, or they’re unconvinced. I think we’d do well to say that. It seems that the stakes are often very high to take one side or the other. Take Side B, and somebody will say you’re an unloving bigot no matter how carefully or kindly you express your views. Take Side A, and you’ll be run out of town on a rail as a heretic (see Rob Bell). So this makes people feel like they have to take one side or the other.

    One of the big problems that I see when Christians talk about this is that they make it about issues, not about people. They lob Bible verses around without pausing to realize that they’re talking about individuals with names and faces and stories. I think that paying attention to people would help form our understanding and our words. Also, a lot of people are dogmatic and insensitive.

    I love that you mentioned the gay people as outsiders/oppressed. Whether or not Christians believe Side A or Side B, I think that we need to realize this. And then separate that from the doctrinal discussion over sin, and work to bring outsiders in.

    Sorry for this clumsy ramble. I wish this could have been over beers instead of wifi. Much love to you.

    • Ford1968

      Holy cow, Micah. I so appreciate this truly thoughtful comment and the sensitivity and candor with which you expressed it. Thank you.

      I look forward to RRs response on this, but please forgive me for wanting to engage here.

      First on language. Beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality run along a spectrum from completely exclusive to completely inclusive. There are at least four major doctrinal positions along this spectrum. I appreciate that “side a” and “side b” can be a convenient shorthand, but I fear it contributes to the false dichotomy of affirming versus non-affirming. I think this vernacular might be a barrier to the nuanced, respectful dialog. And I wholly agree with you, I am a person who is Christian, married and gay; I am not a “side a” or an issue.

      As for the substance of your comment…
      I think there is a difference between loving and feeling loved – intent and impact. A Christian who believes that God demands celibacy from people who are gay might be concerned for the spiritual health and salvation of gay folks (especially friends and family). But the belief itself is judgmental and condemns: “you are being immoral and separating yourself from God”. To a gay person who doesn’t share that conservative belief, this is a statement of rejection of an essential part of their personhood. It is freighted with shame. That doesn’t feel loving at all.

      I’m personally skeptical of love motivated by fear. Love casts out fear. I also believe that the traditional interpretation is harmful to the gay kid in the front pew; and it has naturally led to undeniable damage to gay people and our families.

      I would love to hear more of your thoughts about how we can engage respectfully on this topic.
      My very best to you from Chitown tonight.

    • registeredrunaway

      Micah,

      I agree with you, actually, on a lot of counts. I believe that those who hold to the Side B perspective are fully capable of loving side A folks while holding meaningful disagreements over whether same-sex relationships are sinful. I also think it is a fair perspective to hold, in fact, most still do, although, the numbers are shifting significantly.

      There were a couple of points I was trying to make in this post. One is that moderate-progressive evangelicals are using the same notes over and over about how Christ loved sinners, meaning today- Christians should love LGBT people, because they are sinners. Not that this is necessarily a bad analogy, in fact compared to many, it’s quite compassionate. But I think inside of this, it is forgotten that Christ was decidedly camped with the marginalized- not because they were sinful- but because they were oppressed, that is the only way I can explain Christ spending so much time with different types of oppressed people that were not marked by their sinfulness, but by their difference. Although, perhaps I have read the moderate-progressive posts wrong, but it seems like this is the same refrain, “Jesus would be hanging at the gay club if he were here”, yes, maybe, but not necessarily because of sin, but because of oppression.

      I also wanted to challenge those writing posts about LGBT folk to seriously dig into the material. Study the text, read different perspectives, try on a new theology, grasp whatever you can, because until one does that, they hold no credibility to write about LGBT people. And I worry that at times, bloggers can cram a little scrap of knowledge they found online, and then play expert.

      Additionally, when you operate out of the analogies to the “woman at the well” framework, you are automatically assuming that gay people are sinful, regardless of whether we’re talking about orientation or relationships, and with that grand assumption, there is no recognition of the actual conversation taking place today. What I couldn’t stand about Emily Wierenga’s post, amongst other things, is that she a) spoke as if it was fact that God would back her up, and b) didn’t acknowledge that the existence of Side A. If one is to have this conversation, they must acknowledge that good and Godly people disagree on this.

      That is why, I feel, when we say “women at the well” analogies, it is important to state, gracefully, either “from my interpretation of scripture, I see same-sex relationships as missing the mark.” Or, “I am still working my way through this and I am unsure of whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful. But I know that I am to love all people.” Until that distinction is made, everyone will feel that the writer is a) willing to write about gay people without actually sticking their neck on the line and b) thwarting the conversation by continuing the narrative that there is no conversation happening in the faith about whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful.

      So more than anything, I’d like to see more curiosity coming from my progressive evangelical bloggers who are trying to love, but failing to because they immediately assume sinfulness. I want those that write about LGBT people to dig in deep, wrestle with scriptures and theology.

      And if someone comes out Side B- that is just as acceptable as someone coming to Side A, but both B and A have a responsibility to speak to the reality of the conversation happening. If someone is to write from Side B perspective, I would love to read it and I would hope that the Side B individual would pay respect to those that differ.

      I know that you, Micah are on your own awesome journey with this and, man, if you come to the Side B perspective, that is absolutely okay. What I hope for you, and every other blogger, is that you take all the information, theology, scripture, stories and wrestle with them.

      Also- YOU MADE THE BEST POINT EVER IN THIS COMMENT. We are people and far too often straight Christian writers literally write our faces off the page. They’re not paying attention to the complexities and uniqueness and beauty of our stories, and you most certainly have succeeded at making sure that this remains about stories. That’s why your post “Why I Can’t Say Love the Sinner/ Hate the Sin Anymore” is on the resources page, because while explaining how you felt, you upheld our voices with dignity. I applaud you for that.

    • http://effervescentlights.net Olivia

      Micah, I really like what you have said here because I am one of those “side B” people, and I feel like when I express this (I don’t unless it comes up, though – certainly not looking to engage in “culture wars”), I am often accused of not liking, much less loving, gay people–although it is most often non-Christians who say this. They think I am not being honest with myself if I think that I care for gay people but also think that homosexual action in sinful.

      I still would like to do more research into what the Bible says about the topic of homosexuality, but I have read passages in both the OT and the NT which seem to me to be saying that homosexual action is sinful. I believe that mere orientation isn’t sinful–I think that most of us recognize that that we don’t chose our orientation. The way I see it is that we don’t chose to be tempted by things, but we chose how we respond to temptation. I do not chose to be tempted to laziness or “impure thoughts,” but I do control how I respond to those temptations. Of course, with homosexuality it’s different than with other things, because if we say that acting on these desires is sinful, we are saying that simply engaging in a romantic relationship is off limits. And that is where it gets hard and where we have to pray and pray and talk and commit to loving and respecting each other no matter where we fall on this issue.

      I think the most important thing, though, that I hope all Christians can agree on is that we can be wrong about some theological points and still be saved. We don’t have business calling someone’s faith into question because they disagree with us on something like this. My best friend is gay, and although we obviously don’t feel exactly the same way on this issue, because I know that he is trusting in Jesus for his salvation, I do not at all doubt his status as saved. (I say this not because his salvation needs to be proven to me, but to express that I disagree with the notion that someone would go to hell just because they are gay.) And I think that we need to be able to talk about issues like this without labeling each other as either not really loving gay people, or as not being faithful to what the Bible says about sin.

      I agree that we need to be careful about phrasing this in terms of the women at the well and mentioning how Jesus reached out to sinners. First of all, just having a same-sex orientation does not equal sin. But also, even if we think that it someone is engaging in sin, we need to realize how it comes off to the homosexual community if we say, “Well, I know that Jesus loves you because he dined with sinners.” And especially if we specifically compare homosexuality to adultery or prostitution. This is insensitive, but this kind of communication disaster–and the hurt feelings that go along with it–is easy to avoid if we take the time to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

      I think what heterosexual Christians–especially those who believe that homosexual action is sinful–should do is make sure that we are really listening to the LGBT community. If they say the church is being insensitive (and we know that it often is insensitive to the marginalized), then it is. No one needs to back down from their honest theological beliefs, but we shouldn’t be lazy–we should wrestle with this and not be satisfied with easy answers. And I think that we don’t have the right to call people out for the sin of homosexual action. If this is a sin, it is something private, between that person and their partner and God. It is not something like rape culture or racism that hurts others and that needs public calling out. Some people think that it’s okay for them to issue condemning remarks because, hey, the Bible says that it’s a sin, so I’m just proclaiming biblical truth. But we are not Jesus. Just because he called people out, doesn’t mean we can. We do not have the right to issue statements like that to people that we don’t know. (We should keep in mind that when Jesus called someone out, he loved them more than we could ever imagine and he did know them intimately, even if the person had never met him.) I think it is one thing if we discuss this with a close personal friend, but if you don’t have a loving, intimate relationship with someone, you have no business telling them about how their private romantic/sexual relationship is sinful. We need to love first, ask questions second, and condemn never.

      Sorry that this got really long. This blog post put into words what I have been musing over for a while, how it is harmful to compare the LGBT community to the woman at the well or Zaccheus, or to tell them that Jesus loves them because he loves all sinners. Thanks, RR, for this excellent piece. I am definitely going to check out the book Torn. Thanks for providing a list of resources.

      Peace,

      Olivia

      • registeredrunaway

        Olivia,

        So interesting, because I started reading this warily, and I was nervous, and it ended up being one of my favorite comments on this blog, like Ever. You have demonstrated perfectly the way to engage in this. I think you have a powerful voice, and wherever you end up landing (side A or side B) you will be able to engage lovingly. <- and I don't want this last part to get lost on you, many people claim to be speaking in love through disagreement. You have just shown, in this comment, that you have grasped what it really means to do so. I'm actually sort of surprised that you say you haven't done much research, it sounds like you have! I'd like to tell you that if your honest opinion is that same-sex relationships are sinful, you are not unloving. As you have demonstrated above, you are very loving. Your beliefs are valid! Been engaging with some bloggers on this point that you perfectly summarized: "I think the most important thing, though, that I hope all Christians can agree on is that we can be wrong about some theological points and still be saved." Love that. I know I'm gushing over your comment, but I think you did something important here, so thank you.

  • http://www.allthingstruthful.com Bethany Paget

    Do you see why I want to be your twitter, and now fb BFF? You are beautiful. Your heart for truth and praying that others would seek truth AND understanding if they come to a different truth that’s for them. The grace you exude is radiant. You and your words are helping me redefine what I was “TOLD” about homosexuality when I first became a Christian. Even though none of what I was being told felt right I chose to believe it because I wanted acceptance from people and God. Yet now I’m seeing it all in a different light, with new eyes. Eyes of love that see that there is more to God and Jesus than being stuck in a legalistic and fundamental mind grip.
    Shout it from the rooftops. People are listening. I’m listening.
    Love you friend

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  • http://twitter.com/gayambassador Anthony Venn-Brown (@gayambassador)

    I have to say registeredrunaway this is one dam fine article you have written here. My only regret is that I didn’t pen it myself. Beautiful insights, skillfully crafted…..and delivered with a velvet glove. I am glad I was directed here from another group.

    • registeredrunaway

      Thanks A V-B!! Means a great deal coming from you. I am really thankful that you’ve spread it to others to read. Looking forward to future conversations on here with you!

  • Mal Green

    The original post was a brilliant challenge to me to reflect on my past writing and will be a much-appreciated touchstone for my future writing and conversations. Thank you, RR.

    And the following discussion has been enlightening and informing too. Thank A V-B for pointing me here.

    • registeredrunaway

      Thanks Mal Green. I’m glad its been helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/gayambassador Anthony Venn-Brown (@gayambassador)

    its all about spreading the love, the good news and information Mal Green :-)

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com rogerwolsey

    IMO, progressive Christianity doesn’t in any way consider LGBTQI persons to be sinful because of their being LGBTQand/orI. It doesn’t consider any of those orientations, identifications, or activities to be sinful.

    It is the case that liberal Christianity and emerging Christianity don’t share that consensus and it is people from those camps who are the ones who employ variations of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “just love everyone as we’re all sinners” perspectives.

    Frankly, when people falsely equate/equivocate progressive Christianity with liberal or emerging Christianities that is oppressive against progressive Christianity.

    • registeredrunaway

      First, let me say, HONORED to have you commenting here! I’m really glad you weighed in.

      I would add that I never use the term “progressive christians”, I say “progressive evangelicals.” I completely understand, Kimberly Knight and I discussed the differences, and I’m speaking more to my evangelicals in my blogging community who, lazily, discuss LGBT issues in the church.

  • bdgill12

    Extremely well said. As someone who constantly feels stuck somewhere between the traditional conservative view and the, for lack of a better term, “liberal” view, the hardest part is finding a way to express my support of the LGBT community without coming across as condescending (as you noted quite well in your piece). I’ve studied and struggled with where I come down on this and continue to study and struggle but in the meantime, I would hate to cause the wall to grow any larger, especially while trying hard to NOT be offensive. So thanks for helping to point the way, and thanks also for giving a bit of direction as to how I, and the people in my boat, should converse with you, and the people in your boat, as it relates to all of this.

    • http://www.xanga.com/Amythist_Malaise sheila0405

      I’m in your situation. I’m still trying to figure it all out. Today at Mass I prayed specifically for guidance on the issue. I had read another blog entry on marriage, which directed me to Matthew 19. The topic Jesus is discussing is divorce, and Jesus stated that in the beginning God created male & female to be a permanent union. When the Pharisees see a lifelong commitment as too much to bear, Jesus then talks about eunuchs. ??? I think that in Jewish culture, the family had a high level of value. Jesus seems to be endorsing a lifelong marriage between male & female vs lifelong celibacy. There are no passages that I can find where Jesus addresses homosexual unions. He neither endorses nor condemns them. I can see why the Catholic church accepts gays with the caveat that they remain celibate. I’m still not sure about all of this, because I believe that sexual orientation is something that one is born with. Since God seems to create folks who are gay, then what do we do about that? As I said, I’m still trying to figure out what my heart says vs what I’ve been taught. God has been faithful in answering my other questions about my faith, so I know He’ll eventually answer this one, too. In the meantime, I keep an open mind and wait for God to direct my path. I know how much I loved my late sister in law and her partner. Love has to factor into all of this.

  • Kelly

    Beautifully written. Thank you for such honesty.

  • http://thetrinitydish.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/gay-marriage-in-new-zealand-methodist.html Emily

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. Sometimes I struggle to explain my affirming stance of GLBT issues and the church. This has helped me not to fall into the trap of rephrasing ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’ crap. I have quoted you on my blog – hope that’s okay http://thetrinitydish.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/gay-marriage-in-new-zealand-methodist.html

  • http://twitter.com/flawed_follower Emily (@flawed_follower)

    Thanks for your thoughts. As person who sometimes finds it hard to articulate my GLBT affirming stance within the church – this has helped me not to fall into the ‘hate the sin but not the sinner’ trap crap. I have quoted you on my blog – hope that’s okay http://thetrinitydish.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/gay-marriage-in-new-zealand-methodist.html

  • GDoug

    A shift in the conversation from behavior, which is rooted in the Law, to identity, may prove beneficial. For followers of Christ where does our identity reside? I would submit Galatians 3:23 as a starting point:

    Sons of God Are Heirs of Promise
    Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.
    Our identity is now in Christ as a son of God, not in our flesh.
    And looking at 1Corinthians 15:
    Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

    This is the common spiritual ground from which all followers of Christ can engage.
    Our mistake has been initiating the discussions from fleshly ground, which is rooted in the Law rather than Spirit.

    Back to Galatians 3:
    Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant ,” referring to one, who is Christ. What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise.

    Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one. Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, but God graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise. For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe.

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  • http://tracesoffaith.com/ Traci @tracesoffaith

    A real how-to article on how to join the conversation. Thank you.

  • Sheila Warner

    Once again, my heart felt that clutch, and the tears came down. I have come through my doubts and ended up on the totally opposite side of where I once lived. I believe that gays need to be affirmed. Period. I believe there is a continuum of sexuality, and even if the “traditional” relationships are straight, that doesn’t preclude other kinds of relationships. When two loving souls come together in a committed relationship, shouldn’t we be rejoicing about such love? How many of us really find our soul mate? When souls are knitted together, the union reflects the glory of the love of God. I’ve been in a sort of closet myself, a devout convert to Catholicism, who loves my faith, but I disagree with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I don’t think same sex attraction is disordered–it’s human. I don’t want to cause a scandal in my parish, so being more open on my “somewhat” blog is a dangerous thing. But I’d love to move forward and reblog this post. If I may.

  • Sheila Warner

    Wow, I just noticed this is from July which is before I started following this blog. So far this is my favorite post on here.

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  • http://jasonropp.com Jason Ropp

    “Stop dwelling by the woman at the well and consider that we might be Cornelius. You have to reclaim that Holy Curiosity. You have to be intentional. You have to break your own rules.”

    Love it.

    In keeping with your suggestion I’ll show my hand, after a lot of wrestling and curiosity, I’m still not sure how not to see a blessed gay monogamy in scripture, but you’ve rejuvenated a waning curiosity. Thank you! God has his ways of changing hearts and minds open to His view of the world, I want to be available for that change.

    I most often feel like a stumbling idiot in all of this. But I suppose that’s what the heaps of grace are for. Forgive me if I’ve fit the bill of the sort of person the post is about. Thank you for having the courage to keep me unsettled, for helping me see the plank in my eye. I imagine you’ve gone through hell to do so.

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